As the winter months drags slowly to its conclusion, and the weather shifts into more temperate conditions, New York City will once again step into its role as a central hub of the contemporary art market, and the global art fair circuit, kicking off its string of fairs across the city. Centering around the annual Armory Show Art Fair on the West Side, the week serves as one of the more important selling weeks of the first half of 2020.
Once again opening as a head start to the bulk of the week’s proceedings, the ADAA Art Show returns to its uptown haunt at the Park Avenue Armory, beginning February 27th. Organized annually by the Art Dealers Association of America, The Art Show offers intimately scaled and thoughtfully curated presentations, intended as a way to present the fair not so much as a dedicated selling program, but as an expanded series of micro-shows, stringing together curatorial threads and historical inquiries throughout, and resulting in an engaging and thoughtful program on the whole. Highlights include a selection of nine paintings from artist Donald Moffett’s Fleisch series at Marianne Boesky, while at Petzel Gallery, artist and theorist Walead Beshty will present a mirrored floor installation and never before exhibited photograms.
The following week, the rest of the fairs open, setting off a whirlwind of events spread across the city. At the center of the week’s proceedings is the massive Armory Show, spread across Piers 90, 92 and 94 on Manhattan’s West Side. Regarded as one of the premiere events of Manhattan’s annual arts calendar, the Armory Show combines curated programs with its broad base of galleries, the show continues to be an expansive tour of contemporary art from around the globe. At Night Gallery, one can view work by Cynthia Daignault, who just joined the gallery, while Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg’s This Is Heaven (2019), a video work by the collaborative duo that explores themes of lust, greed, and personal evolution and regression, will be on view at Tanya Bonakdar.
The fair will also return its curated sections and projects, which aim to bring additional curatorial folds and narratives to the expansive fairgrounds. In the fair’s Platforms section, where large-scale works allow a more exploratory presentation, L.A. Louver will honor the late Nancy Kienholz with a presentation of her and her husband Edward’s work The Caddy Court, a 1978 Cadillac complete with an interior cabinet of curiosities that includes taxidermy, historic books, an American flag, and a gavel. Other special projects include a showing of Dawoud Bey’s Harlem U.S.A. series, as well as an installation by Hank Willis Thomas’s For Freedoms project. Also of note is the fair’s talks section, Armory Live, which will feature a panel on collecting and censorship, as well as a talk on museum institutions and their responsibility in addressing climate change, moderated by Daniel A. Barber, Associate Professor and Chair of the PhD Program in Architecture, University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design. Also of note is a live performance by Jeffrey Gibson, which will take place in Times Square.
Barthélémy Toguo, Urban Requiem (2015), via Lelong
And who can forget SPRING/BREAK, the curator-centered exhibition of micro-exhibitions that has defined itself as the scrappy, artist-first program that takes place each year in a range of raw and converted spaces moving across the shifting landscape of Manhattan. The event has moved once again this year, now moving across Manhattan to a space on Madison AVe. Organized around projects and curators rather than gallerists, the show is a fascinating exploration into young artists, young curatorial voices, and the possibilities for new modes of art. The fair’s curatorial prompt this year is IN EXCESS, a prompt that should gel well with the fair’s often adventurous, and occasionally outlandish exhibition projects.
The fairs begin this week with ADAA opening on Thursday, while the Armory Show kicks off next week.
— D. Creahan